Benoit Casseau, Marco Camurri and David Wisth visited Zurich for a meeting of the European project THING (subTerranean Haptic INvestiGator). In a nutshell this project aims to develop new feet for the ANYmal robot to enhance it’s mobility and to perceive terrain properties. In comparison to the current feet, the new ones have sensors that can provide information on the friction coefficient of the terrain and its geometry. They are flexible so that they can adapt their shape to that of the terrain, thus the surface of contact between the new feet and the ground is better than with the normal feet. This should lead to less slippage while walking. With this new feature the Anymal should be able to traverse hazardous, slippery, rocky and wet environments.
The new feet, designed by the University of Pisa, were tested for the first time during this meeting which was also an opportunity for all the members of the project to give an update on their current research.
They spent a day in a sewer making the robot walk and trot in a slippery environment and also created a 3D map of the sewer. The data collected will be used to detect and predict feet slippage.
The final objective of the project is to demonstrate the new feet in a sewer in Zurich and in a copper mine in Poland. The next meeting of the THING project will be in May 2019 in Poland.
Overview video produced by ETH Zurich: